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yeman

Courtesy of The Guardian

The US just fired ship-to-ground into Yemen.  Did you know?

Probably not.  Only a catchy headline made me look.  Meanwhile we have the air sucked out of our whole world’s news organizations by an orange haired buffoon…

Shouldn’t we be talking about Yemen in this presidential campaign?  Apparently not. Instead all the weekend’s attention is focused on a “hick” sheriff wearing a cowboy hat two sizes too large, talking into a camera saying he and his comrades are bringing out the pitchforks… Talk about crazy….

Here is a brief rundown of the REAL crazy of this week.

Saturday 8 October, a 500lb laser-guided US-made bomb was dropped on a funeral procession by the US-sponsored Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels who, the Saudis say, are backed by Iran…

This bomb killed more than 140 people, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 525 people. Human Rights Watch called the incident “an apparent war crime”.

The US strongly rebuked Saudi Arabia between the $110 billion of arms we’ve already sold them since Obama took office, and the newest $1.5 billion, just approved for future delivery.

The US also supplies the Saudis with necessary intelligence and logistics to prosecute its war, as well as aerial refueling of the Saudi’s strike-bombers…

The US is concerned we will be implicated in future war crime prosecutions.

The US announced we would use a heavy hand with the Saudi’s and force them to be more humane in their killing of Yemeni’s.

The guerrillas fired on US warships in the Red Sea. .US Navy countermeasures caused the missiles to fall harmlessly in the water.

The US retaliated on Thursday the 13th by taking out 3 of the rebel’s radar sites with a barrage of cruise missiles from a destroyer.

This attack marked the first time the US has fought the rebels directly in Yemen’s devastating civil war… though we have been behind drone strikes against Al Qaeda there for years.

The US has a historical tendency to get mired down in Middle East Conflicts.

 

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This took place early August. Was not recorded in American media. Was big news in the Mid East…

The arrival of Prince Bandar was secret, shuttled in and out of Russia without fanfare. The meeting went like this.

Bandar relayed the Saudi king’s greetings to Putin and the king’s emphasis on the importance of developing the bilateral relationship. He also told Putin that the king would bless any understanding reached during the visit. Bandar also said, however, that “any understanding we reach in this meeting will not only be a Saudi-Russian understanding, but will also be an American-Russian understanding. I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syrian issue.”

Bandar: ““There are many common values ​​and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

Putin: ““We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”

Then Bandar discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria.

Bandar: “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran.”

Putin: “Your proposals about oil and gas, economic and investment cooperation deserve to be studied by the relevant ministries in both countries.”

Bandar covers the Syrian misunderstanding.

Bandar: “The Syrian regime is finished as far as we and the majority of the Syrian people are concerned. [The Syrian people] will not allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain at the helm. The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”

Putin: “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”

On Egypt:

Bandar: “We said so directly to the Qataris and to the Turks. We rejected their unlimited support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. The Turks’ role today has become similar to Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war. We do not favor extremist religious regimes, and we wish to establish moderate regimes in the region. It is worthwhile to pay attention to and to follow up on Egypt’s experience. We will continue to support the [Egyptian] army, and we will support Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because he is keen on having good relations with us and with you. And we suggest to you to be in contact with him, to support him and to give all the conditions for the success of this experiment. We are ready to hold arms deals with you in exchange for supporting these regimes, especially Egypt.”

Putin: “We are very concerned about Egypt. And we understand what the Egyptian army is doing. But we are very cautious in approaching what’s happening because we are afraid that things may slide toward an Egyptian civil war, which would be too costly for the Egyptians, the Arabs and the international community. I wanted to do a brief visit to Egypt. And the matter is still under discussion.”

On Iran:

Bandar: “About Iran’s role in the region, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. We hope that the Russians would understand that Russia’s interests and the interests of the Gulf states are one in the face of Iranian greed and nuclear challenge.”

Putin: “We support the Iranian quest to obtain nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And we helped them develop their facilities in this direction. Of course, we will resume negotiations with them as part of the 5P+1 group. I will meet with President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Central Asia summit and we will discuss a lot of bilateral, regional and international issues. We will inform him that Russia is completely opposed to the UN Security Council imposing new sanctions on Iran. We believe that the sanctions imposed against Iran and Iranians are unfair and that we will not repeat the experience again.”

Regarding Turkey.

Putin: “Turkey is also a neighboring country with which we have common interests. We are keen to develop our relations in various fields. During the Russian-Turkish meeting, we scrutinized the issues on which we agree and disagree. We found out that we have more converging than diverging views. I have already informed the Turks, and I will reiterate my stance before my friend Erdogan, that what is happening in Syria necessitates a different approach on their part. Turkey will not be immune to Syria’s bloodbath. The Turks ought to be more eager to find a political settlement to the Syrian crisis. We are certain that the political settlement in Syria is inevitable, and therefore they ought to reduce the extent of damage. Our disagreement with them on the Syrian issue does not undermine other understandings between us at the level of economic and investment cooperation. We have recently informed them that we are ready to cooperate with them to build two nuclear reactors. This issue will be on the agenda of the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Moscow in September.”

Concluding remarks.

Bandar: “In light of the course of the talks, things are likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although we appreciate the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt as well as their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt’s future. The dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”

More analysis can be found here….

What an odd title but that is exactly what is going on in Egypt right now. A similar juxtaposition also occurred inside the minds of some Americans back on July 4th 1863 (exactly 150 years ago)  as they begin to bury the dead from both sides in Gettysburg.   Since human beings are 99.5% the same, what Egypt is now bearing must create some  intro-inspection upon how things are going here in the US as well.

I was shown an email passed among Tea Partiers that whooped:  “Egypt got rid of  their dictator; Why can’t we get rid of ours?”   Ironically the popular vote percents are strikingly similar… Morsi won with  51.7%;  Obama with 51.1%…   Yet Egypt is in the middle of a coup; and Obama is being hailed as the first since Dwight to have solidly won over 51% for both terms…

Just looking at a chart over our nation’s history one sees just how tight our popular vote margin is.  (one also sees the margin of victory is a bad indicator of just how good a president will be)…

It’s a good thing we have an electoral college to decide matters for us, and create a more determinable method of preventing what Egyptians and many of out tea partiers think should happen now….

I know many decry Bush’s win (-0.51$)  over Gore and use that to promote an amendment to abolish the Electoral College.  However America survived far better than Egypt (+1.7%) is doing  now,  with even worse violations against the the  popular vote total…  Through the House of Representatives, these people became President:  Benjamin Harrison (-0.83%), Rutherford B. Hayes (-3.00), and John Quincy Adams (-10.44%) all with more of a percentage loss than had George W. Bush over Gore.  In two of the three, the loser returned to whomp the stealer out of his second term.  One  of these “losers” even had a 51% popular vote majority!

But the electoral college  provided decisiveness. Just like in football or basketball, the final score may not portray the better team, but it provides a finality from which we can all move on.

The demise of Morsi is a great chance to bring up this issue, simply to force us to understand why our founding fathers who were unburdened at that point by political parties,  could by using what today are called “thought models”, come up with this peculiar institution that has well served it’s test over time.  Couple that to the fact that even today, we have something almost akin to a political party vying for the forced overthrow our our elected top official,  one can imagine the rancor and violence that might have tainted our nation’s  development if we did not have a clear uncontestable “score” that determined our winners from losers.

One must be cautious when comparing today’s Egypt with today’s American democracy.  Egypt is in its founding stages.  As Morsi proclaimed, removing him removes all legitimacy of any future democratically elected government.  As did Julius Caesar to all future democracy in Rome.

It makes us realize how lucky we are today that all of America was unified behind George Washington as it’s first head of state.  That unanimity of opinion, allowed the slow formation of  traditions we now have today to take root.   For one, Washington did not impose himself (as did Morsi) by aligning with either the Democrats or Federalists on policy at the expense of the other.

Morsi made that mistake with the Muslim Brotherhood.   Instead, unlike the current head of Egypt,   George Washington held court over a myriad of opinions, and picked and chose in the fashion of King Solomon, almost the same as he did at the Constitutional Convention,  of which was the most judicious approach on the basis of each proposal’s merits.  It is worth noting,  that towards the end of his second term as the political parties were being formed for the upcoming  1798 race,  he himself became quite disgusted with the smears, dirt, graft, and corruption required to enable any country to run effectively upon its own power…

Perhaps because Egypt did not endure a long war of Independence, it does not respect the cost of freedom.  Perhaps because democracy came to Egypt in its first time  like a pack of chewing gum in a cashiers line, they easily think they can replace it again with a better flavor?

But this foreboding irony of Egypt remains.   Instead of comparing it with American Democracy, suppose we go Godwin and compare it to the German election of 1932.  What if the Germans had risen up a year later against Hitler and thrown him out?  That would be  good thing right?  Or had  Mao been pushed out and the Chinese business reforms begun 40 years earlier?   Or had North Korea said “unh unh” to its dictator in the first year?  Or had Centrists in Iran risen and prevailed over the Ayatollah?

The Turkish Army as well as the Pakistani Army has on occasion stepped in and then later bowed out whenever control has become precarious.  Perhaps this is the only model that works well for overly excitable Arab populations?  it is a longterm democracy with military safeguards built into its Constitution.

But one thing is very clear from this current outcome is this:  religion can play NO part in government, even if given a political mandate. Living vicariously through Egypt it is clear there must be an impenetrable wall between that which belongs to Caesar, and that which belongs to God. All political entities who have dared mix religion into their political framework, have populations who are deeply suffering now (relative to those in strictly secular governments), even when that religious entity is the Chairman of the ruling political party himself, as is the case in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, or as was of Japan and Germany during the second world war…

It’s a lesson the US should take to heart.  They next time anyone decries we need more religious people in our democracy, cut them off with this:  “Remember Iran; Remember Egypt.”

As Americans we are not immune to Civil War.  From it we learned it is a horrible alternative to walk away from one’s existing structure simply because one does not get one’s own way…  We also learned that one can’t impose one’s will on vast majorities of ourselves who think differently.

Third.  We learned that freedom is great, but the need to eat is greater.  Government first has to function to meet the basic needs of its citizens; only then, once its citizens are economically stable to be not worried whether they will be alive the day after tomorrow,  can their thoughts begin to turn to topics such as does democracy even matter?

As US policy,  our actions need to first get Egypt to feed themselves; Spare no expense; make it our generation’s Marshall Plan. Then once well fed and able to provide for themselves, can we begin to  proselytize our points of view.  Whether they choose democracy or totalitarianism, will depend solely on who they see helping them now in their time of need…  One can talk of democracy’s long-term future implications, but that rings on deaf ears when all one really wonders, is if one will be alive the day after tomorrow.

It sits between two giants… Iran and India. One is Shiite, the other Hindu… both hostile.

Currently this region is the current global hot seat. Some due because of Navy Seal Team 6, the rest due to Iran’s nukes.

However, as often happens when people get angry over a disturbance and hostile words begin to flow, if a member of the correct authority shows up, order is quickly re-established and no violence breaks out. On the other hand, if there is no authority intervening, words pile on words to create hostile feelings, and sooner or later, a physical threat provokes a defensive reaction and boom, a fight breaks out….

The US is the authority that can choose to make the difference.

A couple of things to note. Iran is rattling sabers rather loosely which means they are more worried over consequences within their country, than outside their country… If reading the Shiite tea leaves correctly, there is strong internal pressure within Iran to go tough against the outside.

The pressure is so strong, that Iran leadership seems to be flailing, … signing off on anything that could make it look like leadership was standing up for themselves and not being whooped on by the global community.

There is little Iran can do…

Here is what they’ve tried.

Three bombings. India, Georgia, and Thailand, aimed at Israel diplomats.

Boasting over a very difficult to believe breakthrough of their new technology. Such boasting is rather similar to those of Kim Jong-il….

Pre-empting the EU’s future cutoff, Iran cut off oil sales to 6 countries there.

But these threats seemed calculated for Iran’s domestic consumption. All three bombings were totally bungled, (perhaps by design). The countries cut off of oil, already had a ban in place of not buying any new Iranian oil since last month, and no oil is to be accepted by the EU after July 1st…. And the videos showing Mr. Ahmadinejad loading his new super de- duper nuclear fuel rods without radiation protection, strain belief…. (yeah right they were real)….

Elections are being held March 2nd and there are some serious domestic problems in Iran that warrant the distraction these foreign adventures cause.

In it’s own backyard, regional influence is running away from Iran. Perhaps it’s support for Syria has something to do with that. When the Assad regime fails, Iran will lose it’s supply line to the Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

No longer afraid of Iran, Saudi Arabia announced it would fill Iran’s vacuum with their oil. Even after Tehran called the Saudi move a hostile act, Saudi did not back down, but stuck to its guns in defiance of Iran.

Iran cannot do business with or obtain credit from any reputable international bank, nor can it easily insure its ships or find energy investors…

In the last six weeks, the Iranian rial has declined dramatically against the dollar, adding to the economic woes Iran is now confronting. This stems from America’s penalties on Iran’s Central Bank and on those dealing with it…..

Grain is sitting on ships that won’t unload their cargoes in Iranian ports because suppliers haven’t been paid.

Iranian oil is being stored on tankers as Iran’s buyers demand discounts to purchase it..

Those buying Iran’s oil, are not paying dollars. India is buying oil with rupees and barter, which means Iran might be receiving Indian goods it does not want or need….

All this with elections due in 16 days……

The Iranian problem is creating distance between the West and India. India has refuse to follow the West’s sanctions on Iran’s oil. That is understandable. When you exist in a land where your closest neighbors hate your friend, sometimes what is in your own best interest, is to put a little distance between you and your friend…. That is all India is doing. I mean even we would do that if we found ourselves in that same position…

And between these two I’s, lies Pakistan. A nation rebuffed that it’s ally didn’t confer and trust them and entered and captured Osama Bin Laden on their own. It appears Pakistan has gotten over that.

It is in the process of opening itself to India, creating another reason India would not want to appear too open to the West’s suggestion. Today three agreements on customs cooperation, mutual recognition and redressal of trade grievances were signed between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan is expected to add India to its most-favored status list, as India drops Pakistan from its own Negative List. In a huge trade agreement, Pakastani products will be open to market of 1.2 billion people. Both of India’s central banks have plans to open bank branches in Pakistan, and energy agreements that supply electricity to Pakistan and petroleum to India, are on the boards to be filled out and signed….

In the middle of all this, Afghanistan’s leader Karzai is visiting Pakistan to shore up relations. Sidelined by the US in its talks with the Taliban in Qatar, Karzai will attempt to shore up support in case a coalition government with the Taliban is forthcoming.

Soon a meeting will take place between Karzai, Pakistan, and the Iranian President, just two weeks before his election in which it is expected to create a joint communique demanding that the Taliban come to the negotiation table, so that region can get over conflict for a while, and get down to the business of rebuilding through trade among its neighbors.